Word Order… I think I’ve finally got it!!

My biggest bugbear to date has been Word Order. I’ve never kept it a secret from my blogging to date, anyone following my learning to date will know that it has really been getting me down and I am really struggling to get to grips with it. However, in order to combat this I have decided to work on it this morning and I do believe I may now have the formation variations written down in a way that make sense to me. I have even written down little example cards that I can carry around with me and refer to them at a glance without having to get my big folder out.


I started this blog as I struggled to find much help out there in the way of helping so I am going to talk you through the formation of Word Order as I understand it I have notice my blog has become a little diary-like and we want to be avoiding that! Those who got their head round this quicker and earlier than me might want to skip the rest of this blog piece.



Word Order: 

There are 3 basic types of word orders in Dutch. These different places are identifiable by the position of the working/conjugated verb (I prefer to refer to them as “conjugated”).

IMG_5254Type 1

Most sentences both in Dutch and English start with the subject e.g. Ik, Hij, De boek. The second position in the sentence is the conjugated verb. If the subject is not the first place in the sentence then the conjugated verb is preceded by it.

Lets look at some examples:

  • Ik help hem – I help (am helping) him.
  • Het kind will met de kat spelen – The child want to play with the cat.
  • Morgen moeten wij vertrekken – We must leave tomorrow.
  • In de krant hen ik dat artikel gelezen – It was in the newspaper that i read the article.

It is worth remembering that almost any element can occupy the first position of the sentence and the elements which require the most emphasis are usually put first.

In yes/no questions the conjugated verb takes first position followed by the subject. The conjugated verb also come first in commands or direct orders. 


Type 2

Here are some examples: 

  • Zijn Piet en Ineke al thuis? – Are Piet and Ineke already at home?
  • Heb je de nieuwe film al gezien? – Have you seen the new film already?
  • Kom toch me! – Come with me


Type 3 

Dependent clauses have the conjugated verb at the end. Inactive verb form generally precede the conjugated verb. 

A few examples of this:

  • Hij zegt dat hij niet zingen wil! – He says that he does not want to sing!
  • Wij weten nog niet of hij ons morgen opbellt – We do not know yet if he will call us tomorrow.

There is a separate section on Word Order which I think needed to be noted here and it all falls in this part of the section i covered this morning. 

When several adverbs occur in the sentence the general sentence the word order follows a basic template: Time, Manner, Place. Put in a more simple way these examples will show how it fits together. 

  • Hij gaat morgen [time] met zijn vrouw [manner] naar Utrecht [place]. – He is going to Utrecht tomorrow with his wife. (It is also possible to say; Morgen gaat hij met zijn vrouw naar Utrecht.)   
  • Ik ging gisteren [time] met de train [manner] naar Leiden [place]. – I went by train to Leiden yesterday. (Again it is possible to say; Gisteren ging ik met de train naar Leiden.) 



These 4 little rules are really going to help me. The more i’m looking at Dutch written down i am starting to see these patterns. I am getting very excited about all of this. It is going to really help. 

If you’re still reading this i do hope it makes a little more sense to you too. Don’t forget to just ask if you can’t work it out. 

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